Glass Swords, Rustie’s debut album, was released when the terms “trap” and “EDM” had the respective contexts of both gangsta-oriented Southern rap and, like, David Guetta, and thereby escaped the economy of festival market-shares through its unique sound and vision. Obviously, EDM did not invent the build/release mechanic, but it did take it to a supremely marketable obscenity. Now, there is no escaping its thematic palate: that is to say, “Where’s the drop?” While Rustie is engaging in this narrative of desire and consummation, he’s doing it on distinct terms. And with follow-up album Green Language, he explores this zone of ever-heightening desires, a space where consummation is debated through crescendos.
Under this paradigm, the avoidance of the drop is a subversive gesture, something Rustie well knows. But there is a casual, almost cool approach, coming from no cohesive place other than explorative interest. What are the symptoms? Two of the most obvious departures are the atypically short track times and the atypically large amount of songs with collaborators. Out of the latter comes only one standout “banger,” being “Attak” with Danny Brown. It’s an incredible song, with vocals viciously oscillating between helium squeak and insistent snarl, Danny Brown riding the beat like a champion. Many of the other guests on the album fall flat when juxtaposed against Rustie’s glittering production — for example, “He Hate Me” with Gorgeous Children and the almost-cariactured grime-hype of “Up Down” with D Double E — but Danny Brown’s manic intensity matches that of Rustie’s, and once he goes in, it seems as if he might never want to come out. He finally does break, but not before a triumphant, nearly messianic parting message: “I ain’t gotta say shit, tell yo bitch suck my dick.”
Viewing Green Language’s forays into futuristic soundscapes, these collaborations can be seen as an option opened up in the multiverse of Rustie. but another path that we might choose to take is toward these tracks of shorter length, sparse bass, and evocative titles, like “Paradise Stone,” “Tempest” “Lets Spiral,” “Green Language,” and “A Glimpse.” These, I think, are the ones that really hit warp drive. Their musical references are more obscure than the rest of the album, where I hear more Harold Budd or Federico Mompou than I do Hudson Mohawke or RL Grime. In these tracks, largely beatless and entirely undanceable, the premise (or perhaps the promise?) of musical consummation, of a cathartic break, of a synthesized, Ableton-induced orgasm, is dropped altogether. Due to their short lengths and appearances at the opening and the close of the album, one might assume that they are intended as segues. But their overwhelming sensuality is where I think Rustie’s aesthetic visions are most clearly realized and also where Green Language lies most comfortably: on a divan under 1080p blankets. The visual, sensual element of Green Language is clearly written upon the hyper-stylized album cover and can be seen flitting in and out of track titles like “A Glimpse” or “Lets Spiral.” Here, he evokes heightened visions and glides, soars upwards or downwards; the direction becomes irrelevant.
On one level, these tracks might be compared to ambient music in its non-teleological synthesized progressions that are more concerned with exploration than attainment. But there is still an astonishing feeling of fluid movement maintained throughout, thereby avoiding stagnancy (considered musically as well as historically). For these reasons, the titular track is particularly extraordinary in its restraints, capturing the best estimate of what a “green language” might be: we are standing on the threshold of objet petit a and looking through a language understood not through definitions, but where the timbre of words are indistinguishable from their meanings. It is a metaphor made crystalline, and we wish we could hold onto it longer. But it stops, right there. You’d feel jilted if it wasn’t in such good faith.